Whether you like your Brandy Old Fashioned sweet or sour, this Wisconsin take on the classic cocktail is the perfect drink for sipping as you grill up some brats or enjoy a classic fish fry.
If you’ve spent any time in Wisconsin, and cocktails are your thing, then you’ve probably tasted the unofficial state cocktail, the Brandy Old Fashioned.
It’s so widely popular that native Wisconsinites refuse to believe that an Old Fashioned cocktail uses anything other than brandy.
The Old Fashioned Cocktail
The Old Fashioned Cocktail takes up its place in the list of the most basic classic cocktails along with the Martini and the Manhattan.
The Old Fashioned started as a simple combination of Whisky, Angostura bitters, sugar, and water. But, as it grew in popularity, so did the variations.
A Brandy Old Fashioned
Apparently at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, a new brandy distiller from California called Korbel was sampling their spirits.
Korbel began pouring the classic “Old Fashioned” whiskey cocktail using brandy, and the German crowd from Milwaukee took to the brandy and the cocktail in a big way.
(So much so, in fact, that Korbel still sells more brandy in Wisconsin than in any other individual state.)
Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet or Sour?
In Wisconsin, the default way to make a Brandy Old Fashioned is with a splash of Sprite or 7-up, making it “sweet.”
But, don’t think you have to stop there.
You can also make it with sour mix or a sour soda (often Squirt), making it “sour.” You can get fancy, and make it “press,” with a combination of 7-up and seltzer. Or, you can skip all the fanciness and simply add seltzer.
Don’t Forget To Garnish
While the bubbly filler is up to your discretion, the orange and cherry garnish for a Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned is non-negotiable.
In fact, to give a bit of added fruit flavor to the drink, some bartenders will muddle orange slices and cherries with the bitters and sugar. That’s how we prefer ours and the way we’ve crafted our recipe below.
If you don’t have a muddler, don’t worry. Just mix the drink without muddling (do be sure the sugar gets dissolved in the first step) and simply squeeze the orange slice you use for garnish into the drink for that extra splash of flavor.
Other Classic Cocktails You May Enjoy
If you’re loving the brandy old fashioned and want to up your mixology game by getting into some other “classic cocktails” that blend simple flavors in complementary fashions, here are some you may enjoy:
- Manhattan (whiskey cocktail)
- Gimlet (gin cocktail)
- Martini (vodka and vermouth cocktail)
- French 75 (champagne cocktail)
- Mojito (rum cocktail)
- Mint Julep (bourbon cocktail)
- Sazerac (rye whiskey cocktail)
There are many other cocktails that fall into the category of “classic cocktails” and many spins and twists on these classic flavors. If you’re loving cocktails, once you dive into classic cocktails, the possibilities are endless!
Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned
- ½ tsp sugar
- 3 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 orange slice (plus extra for garnish)
- 2 Maraschino cherries or brandied cherries (plus extra for garnish)
- 2 oz brandy
- 2-3 ice cubes
- Sprite, 7-up, Squirt, sour mix, or seltzer (as desired to top off the drink)
- Place the sugar, bitters, orange slice, and cherries in an Old Fashioned glass. Add a splash of water. Muddle*, being careful to avoid the orange rind, until the sugar has dissolved.
- Add the brandy and a couple of ice cubes. Stir.
- Top the drink off with your choice of soda, sour mix, or seltzer.
- Garnish with a skewered orange slice and cherry, if desired.